Change Orders: How to Discuss With Clients

Adding your change order policy in a contract—while simply being upfront with the client—make a huge impact

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General contractors know that most renovation jobs and budgets get modified along the way. This happens either by last-minute client choices or by forces outside everyone’s control. But your clients may not know this—they’re probably not prepared for new expenses appearing after the job’s begun. The solution: prepare clients by discussing change orders! Here, Sweeten offers 5 suggestions on how to do it.

Sweeten matches general contractors with high-quality home renovation projects, vetted for readiness and appropriate budget. Contractors pay only when they win a project. Budgets start at $15,000 and average over $67,000.

1. Bring up change orders early 

Start the conversation during the hiring process. Don’t try to slip it in after they’ve signed the contract. 

2. Have a clear and consistent change order policy

You have to know every detail of your policy before you can discuss it with clients effectively.

3. Communicate openly, honestly, and confidently

Don’t be afraid of scaring the client! They’re looking to you as the expert who will guide them through the process. Expert contractors will talk to their clients about everything, from renovation timelines to change orders. By guiding them honestly and confidently, you’ll earn their trust. Plus, you’ll get to work with a well-informed client who has reasonable expectations.  

4. Include your policy for change orders in the contract

This should be in addition to a discussion, not in place of it. Make sure you’re just as open and honest when you put your policies in writing.

5. Be especially clear with clients who are purchasing their own materials

Impress upon them the significance of last-minute changes or delivery delays. Explain that what looks to them like a minor change in materials could actually mean hiring a more expensive subcontractor. And it may throw off the whole schedule.

Remember that most problems with clients come from broken expectations. The most valuable tool in your toolbox is good communication—it’s how you create trust and reasonable expectations before the work begins.

Ready to win even more projects? Read Sweeten’s guide How to Close: Best Practices for Getting Your Contract Signed

 

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